The inmate suspected of stabbing Larry Nassar in a Florida prison over the weekend was set off after the former sports doctor made a comment while watching a Wimbledon women’s match on television, a source with knowledge of the investigation said Wednesday.
The source, whom NBC News is not naming because they do not have authority to speak publicly about the investigation, said the suspect allegedly stabbed Nassar, 59, after claiming he made a remark about wanting to see girls play in the tennis tournament, prison employees told the source. The attack occurred in Nassar's cell, which was out of view from any witnesses or surveillance cameras, the source said.
Details of the assault, which took place Sunday afternoon at Federal Correctional Complex Coleman near Wildwood, were first reported by The Associated Press.
The federal Bureau of Prisons declined to comment Wednesday about the inmate or what may have provoked the incident, citing the pending investigation. It has not confirmed Nassar was involved, and it said Monday that the victim underwent lifesaving measures at a local hospital and that the investigation continues.
Nassar's condition was unclear Wednesday; NBC News previously reported he had been stable after the assault. He was stabbed twice in the neck, twice in the back and six times in the chest, and he also sustained a collapsed lung.
Nassar was sentenced to decades in prison for sexually assaulting gymnasts — his accusers include Olympic champions Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney — as a longtime doctor for the USA Gymnastics team. He is serving time for convictions in both state and federal courts.
He pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting gymnasts and other athletes with his hands under the guise of medical treatment for hip and leg injuries. More than 150 accusers spoke out or submitted statements detailing his abuse at his trial.
He also separately pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography.
In June 2022, the Michigan Supreme Court rejected a final appeal.
Nassar worked at Michigan State University and at Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, traveling the world with elites of the sport.
He has been housed at Coleman since 2018 in a unit with other sex offenders.
Sunday's incident was not the first time he has been assaulted behind bars.
Before his transfer to Coleman, Nassar was attacked within hours of being released into the general population of a high-security prison in Arizona, where he began serving his federal prison sentence. He was subsequently removed from the general population, The Detroit News reported.
Prison union leaders say that Coleman has been understaffed and that workers have been pulling extra shifts to the detriment of safety and security.
A Bureau of Prisons spokesperson said Wednesday that staffing at Coleman remains a "top priority" and that the agency is actively hiring and using incentives to retain employees.
"It remains imperative that we increase our staffing levels," the agency said.